If you have questions regarding the process for providing information concerning a lawyer, read the following FAQ.
The Law Society of Alberta regulates the legal profession in the public interest by promoting and enforcing a high standard of professional and ethical conduct by Alberta lawyers. In order to effectively do our job, we rely on you, whether you are a member of the public, another lawyer or a member of the business community, to share information about your experience with lawyers. The information you provide is important. We carefully assess each matter brought forward according to a process that is fair and consistent for both you and the lawyer involved. When filling out our Information Concerning a Lawyer Form, you will be asked to provide background on the matter as well as your contact information. Going forward, information reported to the Law Society is no longer considered a complaint at the intake phase.
We assess your information to determine whether we can assist and, if so, whether to stream it to our discipline or early intervention processes.
The early intervention approach is a new process for proactively responding to concerns about lawyer conduct which may otherwise have been dismissed. The criteria for what goes into our discipline process remains unchanged.
Lawyers are governed by the Legal Profession Act, the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta and the Code of Conduct. Any behaviour that breaches the requirements set out in these documents may be found to be of significant regulatory risk and deserving of sanction, based in part on decisions of Law Society hearing panels. These matters are addressed in our discipline process. Matters are reviewed to determine whether the public is at imminent risk and are addressed on a priority basis.
You will receive a letter acknowledging that we have received your information and updates on the status of the matter.
Early Intervention is a proactive and collaborative approach that supports increased lawyer competence and the improved delivery of legal services to all Albertans. We provide resources and programs to help lawyers achieve reasonable standards of professional and ethical conduct. Part of the process may involve working with you and the lawyer to get things back on track through resolution. We may work with a lawyer for a period of several months – or longer – with the file remaining open until the lawyer completes the recommended program(s). We have follow-up protocols in place to ensure lawyers are managing these issues on an ongoing basis.
If this supportive approach is ineffective, matters may be directed to the discipline process.
We ask lawyers to work collaboratively with us and take advantage of our recommended programs and resources. If lawyers decline, it will be noted in our records and forms part of our assessment of the lawyer’s ongoing conduct.
The Law Society maintains a record of all matters brought to our attention. If the lawyer’s customer service does not improve despite early intervention, a disciplinary approach may be necessary.
As the regulator, we carefully assess each matter brought forward according to a process that is fair and consistent for both you and the lawyer involved. The Law Society applies a rigorous test based on interpretation of the Legal Profession Act, Rules of the Law Society of Alberta and Code of Conduct, past decisions and lawyer history.
The information will be assessed and if there are no concerns with the lawyer’s conduct, the matter may be closed.
We believe early intervention is a proactive and collaborative approach to supporting lawyer competence and improving the delivery of legal services to all Albertans. This new process allows us to proactively respond to concerns about lawyer conduct that may otherwise have been dismissed. We may seek your feedback, as well as the feedback of the lawyer involved, to tell us more about the experience. We will monitor cumulative data and individual cases to determine if this process is effecting positive change for both the lawyers and the public they serve.